The Phoenix Suns are the only NBA team to boast a pair of starters in tonight’s All-Star Game, and my how different has this week been for the two of them?
While Steve Nash has been running the Olympic torch, lighting the Olympic cauldron and winning the Skills Challenge at the age of 36 (rumors unconfirmed on if he also cured cancer), Amare Stoudemire has just been the subject of constantly swirling trade rumors. Nash is having the kind of weekend he’ll never forget; Amare likely just can’t wait for this week to be over and the Feb. 18 deadline to come so all the talk will stop.
Before we get to all the Amare to Cleveland talk, let’s spend a moment on tonight’s All-Star Game, which starts at 6 p.m. MST on TNT in the spectacle known as Cowboys Stadium.
It will be a special time again for Nash, playing in the city where he first established himself as an NBA star for six seasons. His two main career one-two punch partners will join him in the starting lineup — Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Amare — and Nash will likely put on a show getting other people the basketball. I would not be surprised to see Nash go for no points and 10 assists in the first quarter as he strives to get all his All-Star teammates involved.
It’s special that Dirk snuck into the starting lineup due to Kobe’s injury to make this Nash-Dirk pairing happen. As much as I’m normally lukewarm on All-Star games, having those two former teammates spin their old magic in their city will be something special.
It certainly means something extra for Nash to be able to play potentially his final All-Star Game and only his second as a starter in front of these fans, especially when Michael Jordan was the last player to start at his age.
“I have great memories of my time in Dallas,” Nash said. “The fans were fantastic to me, our team went from one of the worst teams to the best, so it was a very impressionable and important time in my career, and to go back there and represent my team as an All-Star will be fun.”
I do wonder how the defensive matchups will go after Joe Johnson replaced Allen Iverson and Dirk replaced Kobe. Nash will have to guard either D-Wade or JJ (gulp!) and apparently Dirk will get the assignment on LeBron. Since nobody was planning on playing defense anyway, I suppose this might not be a bad thing.
This deal sucks, plain and simple, and from what I’ve seen on Twitter and the ValleyoftheSuns comments, most fans agree with that as well. Even Jared Dudley, ever the good company man, tweeted this: “I’m starting the Campaign now.. Don’t trade Amare..we need him to make this playoff run.. Are u with me?”
I suppose if you know you can’t sign Amare to an extension and you expect to lose him for nothing anyway then J.J. Hickson is better than nothing, but I can’t believe that’s the best offer out there. It just can’t be. The guy has played well of late, potentially with the Cavs showcasing him for a deal, but he averages 7.4 and 4.4 on the season!
The Suns would be better off playing this season out and seeing what happens this offseason than making their move now with Hickson, a move that could still be there in a sign-and-trade this offseason.
According to Broussard, the Suns’ top target in an Amare deal remains Andre Iguodala, and isn’t it amazing that they would go from asking for Iggy to J.J. Hickson?
So long as the Suns are talking about ridiculous deals, I’m going to throw out this hypothetical trade that could (emphasis on could) make everyone happy:
Suns get: Iggy and Dalembert from Philly
Cavs get: Amare and J-Rich
Sixers get: Hickson, Big Z’s contract, Wally Sczerbiak’s sign-and-trade contract
According to Trade Machine, the Cavs would have to trade an additional $13.4 million to make this work, which I believe they can do with Wally World’s deal because he made $13 million last year.
This scenario gives the Suns their optimal deal in acquiring Iggy and Dalembert while getting rid of J-Rich’s contract. This deal would save the Suns about $4.5 mil next year while creating lots of flexibility when Dalembert expires the following season.
The Cavs would be loaded for their title run and their subsequent run at keeping LeBron, albeit going way over the cap to do so, and the Sixers would shed a ton of salary while acquiring the great J.J. Hickson.
But really, with what appears to be on the table, I think the Suns would be wise to keep their All-Star starting center and play this game again in the offseason.